The victim of misplaced expectations: some stretches were exceedingly beautiful and evocative and quietly profound, but it had the tendency to wanderThe victim of misplaced expectations: some stretches were exceedingly beautiful and evocative and quietly profound, but it had the tendency to wander into tangents I didn't find equally resonant or even illuminating. I have a particular fondness for analysis that explicitly braids together critical and the autobiographical modes, and I think what I was wanting was a more theoretically rigorous variation on Jonathan Rosenbaum's lush, Faulkner-influenced Moving Places: A Life at the Movies. Instead, I remember finishing Augé's long essay and feeling that everything just doesn't quite hang together somehow, though I was unable to pinpoint exactly why (I do wonder if there might be some translation issues at play).
In the end, I actually found that Conway's Afterward “A Writer and His Movie” was what articulated many of the ideas that I was hoping to find in Augé's actual text:
"the recollections accumulating here and in Auge’s other essays leave the effect, much like that of a New Wave film, of enticing the viewer to follow an ever-bifurcating path through images, both past and present, and to employ those images as reminders of our own relations (and those of our kin) with events that shape history."
Still, I feel like someday I'll revisit this with readjusted expectations. I mean, how could I not, when there are passages as gorgeous as this?
“I don’t always spend my time thinking about movies and about Casablanca, but today, when I recall the various peripatetics of my existence, without really knowing why they continue to occupy my mind, I sometimes happen to associate the film with emotions, faces, and landscapes that, although they belong to fiction, survive me as memories."
I found Deleuze's cinema books practically incomprehensible (gorgeously, beguilingly incomprehensible, but incomprehensible nonetheless) before this iI found Deleuze's cinema books practically incomprehensible (gorgeously, beguilingly incomprehensible, but incomprehensible nonetheless) before this invaluable study helped untangle some of the more difficult knots. Rodowick accomplishes this not so much as explaining as contextualizing and helping draw revealing connections to Deleuze's larger philosophical project. I only read the section immediately relevant to what I was studying at the time (cinema and "minor" literatures), but plan someday to return to take on the rest. ...more
It was stumbling across the concept of "minor literature" and the "minor author" that my thesis turned an important corner, and even if I eventually hIt was stumbling across the concept of "minor literature" and the "minor author" that my thesis turned an important corner, and even if I eventually had to cut out all the sections explicitly referencing the theory it still integrally informs the theoretical underpinnings that developed around my thoughts and ideas.
What I love about Deleuze and Guattari's idea is how counter-intuitive it is—if Kafka's not a "major" author, than who can be? But the two French theorists aren't thinking about issues of canonicity, of course, rather, they use the concept as a means of analyzing the use of language: "a minor literature doesn't come from a minor language; it is rather that which a minority constructs within a major language." The general line of thinking is that as a man of Jewish ancestry who lived most of his life in German-speaking areas (Prague, Berlin, etc), Kafka was able to utilize his marginalized social status to employ the German language in unexpected, ultimately revolutionary ways (Deleuze and Guatarri would say that he "deterritorializes" the German language). In his introduction to this volume, Reda Bensmaia put it this way:
"For Kafka, therefore, it is never a matter of 'trafficking' in language or of mishandling it—how many writers and poets have supposedly 'subverted' language without ever having caused the slightest ripple in comparison with the language of Kafka, Joyce, or Kleist?—but of essentially proposing a new way of using it."
I think of it as the concept of "major" and "minor" as employed in music. To me, what Deleuze and Guattari are getting can be visualized by something like a piano keyboard, with only a select group of individuals discovering how to best use the black keys (the flats and sharps), while the rest of us—and even many who we consider our best writers—simply have to use the white keys as best we can. ...more
This series is quickly proving to be a godsend. Barthes is a theorist I've long been drawn to, but his subjects and approaches are so diverse and far-This series is quickly proving to be a godsend. Barthes is a theorist I've long been drawn to, but his subjects and approaches are so diverse and far-reaching that I've never been able to get a handle on the "larger picture." Graham Allen, whose other contribution to this series, Intertextuality, was one of the most pleasurable theory books I've ever read, provides an elegant and concise overview of Barthes's varied career as a writer and public intellectual, drawing subtle lines of continuity from Barthes's first book to his last (turns out my inability to grasp a "larger picture" was in fact one of Barthes's intentions).
Now I have much, much more to read, but at least I have a better idea of how to go about doing it. ...more